Jonathon Heasley got lit up and the Royals offense went out with not a bang but a whimper as Kansas City dropped the season finale 9-2 in Cleveland.
While Guardians starter Aaron Civale did strike out three batters in the opening frame, the Royals managed to get on the board thanks to a Vinnie Pasquantino homer. However, the Guardians immediately thereafter demonstrated that they’re a substantially better team. Six batters reached in the bottom of the inning, four of them with two outs. Heasley escaped the inning via a hard lineout, but not before allowing four runs.
Cleveland kept up the pressure from there, getting four batters on base over the second and third innings and plating a run in each. Heasley did finally manage a scoreless inning in the fourth, but he plunked Andrés Giménez in the process.
Meanwhile, Civale was carving up Royals hitters. Through the first four innings, he allowed just three baserunners while striking out seven on a tidy 56 pitches. Kansas City inched closer when Kyle Isbel bashed a leadoff homer in the fifth, but Civale retired the side with just five pitches afterwards.
It was all Cleveland from there. Carlos Hernández and Luke Weaver both were touched up in relief. Meanwhile, the Royals managed just one baserunner - a Bobby Witt Jr. single - over the last three innings. The Guardians closed out Kansas City's season, winning 9-2.
- Pasquantino’s first inning dinger gave him ten on the season. With Witt hitting 20 and Melendez 18, this is the first trio of Royals rookies to hit double digit homers in a season since the franchise’s first season in 1969. That year, Bob Oliver, Mike Fiore, and Lou Piniella hit 13, 12, and 11, respectively. If you want to separate that group from this season, all of those guys had made their big league debut prior to 1969, while this group all debuted in 2022.
- He wasn’t good, and saving the bullpen isn’t a factor at this point, but credit to Heasley for gutting out five innings after needing 37 pitches to get through the first.
- Hernández was the second most popular pick among the community to be the best Royals pitcher this year. He finishes the season with a 7.39 ERA in 56 innings. Ouch.
- This Cleveland team is reminiscent of the last competitive Royals squads: excellent defense, good baserunning, contact hitting offense, and a lockdown bullpen. Six of their nine runs were scored on singles and they struck out just six times as a team.
With the loss, the Royals finish the season 65-97, last in the division and one game behind Detroit. This represents a significant step back from last year. Kansas City will now enter an offseason with many questions to answer and plenty of work to do to get back on track.
Jonathon Heasley - 5 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR
Aaron Civale - 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 2 HR
Vinnie Pasquantino - 2-4, HR, RBI, R
José Ramírez - 4-5, 2B, 2 RBI, R